After a minor delay en route to Hambleden when I had to make an emergency stop in the services to update Sir Mark Todd's visa for his flight to Kentucky I arrived on site to a surprisingly un muddy car park. This meant that I missed Faerie Dianimo's dressage which was hugley disappointing as traditionally Maggie May has never failed to produce some spectacular fireworks for her first test of the season which, while amusing me greatly, does not have the same effect on Jonelle! She broke her own record for a test at a one day...with a 28! The only other time she has scored in the 20's was at Hambleden last year with a 29 but it was not a mark that she deserved so an immeadiate health check was carried out that produced nothing. After a lovely clear showjumping and a very steady cross country for 41 time penalties Maggie ended up in 10th which showed how tough the conditions were cross country, particularly in the wooded sections. Obos Impressive (Candy) scored a 34 in her intermediate and jumped a very grown up double clear for 9th place and Kindred Spirit (Joey) dealt manfully with the tacky ground for a 34 and another steady double clear for 10th spot in his section.
Meanwhile Operation TP to Kentucky was in full swing. Lucy Miles and Amanda Breiditis had two horsesboxes and 8 horses to flash through in testing conditions. Tim did all of his tests with enough time to pick up some good scores all on or under the 70% barrier. We then had a combined assult on the notoriously " programme order only" gate steward at the showjumping and with a mixture of banter and promises of cake got a fairly efficient system going. Obos Cooley (Finn) was on a smart 25 test and he jumped a lovely round to just pick up 4 faults. Xavier Faer (Hugo) also went really well with just the last fence falling to add to his 30 test. Cloud Dancer (Marley) jumped clear in his second ever round with Tim to add nothing to his 22 dressage and Danturano K also just tipped a rail. He did pick up 5 time which Tim was a bit non plussed about until I mentioned that he was the only horse and rider out of 7 videos to disappear behind the score board for so long on a turn that I lost him from view! He did get some nice ground out there though!
Amanda had been warming up the horses for Tim in the collecting ring before we fell foul of the chief steward and were told that Amanda was only allowed to walk. This was a tad unhelpful so we headed up to the cross country start with the clock ticking away with Dan ready to go and Amanda trying her luck on Marley in a differerent space. Things went pear shaped straight away when Austin O Connor broke the rail into the coffin and a lengthy hold ensured with Jonelle stuck somewhere in the woods on Candy. When it was finally decided that it could not be fixed and the in would be taken out this prompted Andrew Nicholson to comment that all the riders owed Austin a drink! Jonelle finally came home and Tim headed off while Amanda and I got another ticking off for not walking! Dan went clear although Tim said it was fair to say that Dan turned out to be not a fan of Hambleden. A quick change over to Marley while Amanda and I swopped tack from Dan to Hugo at the start. With an attitude that can only come from being brought up in the land of Ikea when we discovered the keeper on the breastplate was broken Amanda repaired it with her hairband! Dead impressive.
Tim returned on Marley who was hardly blowing and declared him "A dream ride" and swopped onto Hugo. We were perilously close to our 3pm deadline by now but the start team and the other riders were hugely helpful. As Amanda and I threw a happy Marley towards one of his syndicate owners, Jo Preston, to return to the truck we tacked up Finn for Tim's last ride of the day. Hugo finally got his first run of 2016 and Tim returned with a big smile on his face as no one loves the mud more than Hugo. Amanda took Hugo back to the truck with his usual "I think that was fun but I am not sure if I remember all the fences" expression on his face and Tim warmed up Finn who was looking the ultimate professional as always. Then the course went on hold for a broken pin and that was it for time as it was now 3.15 and we had to head into London in Sunday traffic. Finn was swiftly handed over to Lucy looking a bit surprised and we left the poor girls with the truck in chaos around them.
I generously allowed Tim to drive my car as I told him he was the better driver. Boys love this but in reality if we were were going to pick up any speeding points I thought it was only fair that he should take them! Tim made his check in with just 3 minutes to spare although I think that was time saved by me not allowing him to find some socks in his bag!
Jonelle was handing out cake and positive thoughts to the girls as it had been pretty frenetic before she went off to ride Jacksonlyn in the novice. A really good 27 and a clear showjumping left them in a great position but since Rocky had had an altercation with the road earlier in the week (and had lost! ) she elected not to run him cross country. He was sound but afer the mud on that course may not have been!
Oh, and I think we forgot to take the showjumping guy some cake. Oops.